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Why open social collaboration platforms will disrupt the enterprise market in 2013 and beyond

Guest post by Sarah Evans (PRsarahevans), chief evangelist, Tracky, social correspondent at Sarah’s Faves and author of [RE]FRAME: Little Inspirations For A Larger Purpose

The majority of businesses aren’t run efficiently and employees lack the tools and equipment necessary to do their jobs. Quite a wide sweeping statement, I know. But I’ve also been in the trenches. And I realize it’s not for lack of trying. I’ve worked with companies who hired consultant after consultant to help with productivity recommendations, workflow suggestions and overall team building — all in the name of doing better business. These investments never quite had the impact leadership hoped for.


Because they lacked a fundamental commitment to launch an entire culture overhaul (more about this later). Not necessarily “cleaning house,” but changing the WAY people work individually, collaboratively and publicly. The key lies in this trifecta, partnered with the right people on board.

Now, predictions and estimates show that social collaboration tools will start to rule the roost in 2013. This comes after worldwide enterprise social software revenue surpassed $769 Million in 2011. That only hits one area of professional workflow — those who manage social media. Social software doesn’t include the rest of the work force, requiring some companies to use multiple collaboration tools that:

1. Don’t “talk” to one another or interdepartmentally;

2. Require massive amounts of training, and staff to upkeep software; or

3. Aren’t available for customers and clients to use.

It’s estimated that 75 percent of enterprise-level organizations will adopt a social collaboration platform in 2013. That adoption rate could very well be accurate, but long term use could be hindered if these tools and platforms are implemented ineffectively.

It’s time for these platforms to have their moment in the sun, not because they’re the “next big thing,” but because they are essential to the future of how business is done. Office workers spend an average of 28 hours a week writing emails, searching for information and collaborating internally. Furthermore, 80 percent of Americans work “after hours,” equaling an extra day of work per week.

Am I the only one who finds this maddening? I believe these are very conservative estimates and that it doesn’t have to be this way anymore. Many of today’s incoming workforce have a mentality of work/play/live and it doesn’t involve being tethered to a work device — but, if their work platform also lets them accomplish “play” and “live,” it may mean more productivity and connection to work.

The platform (yes, platform, not a tool) an enterprise company selects to lead their open social collaboration efforts is one of the biggest decisions they’ll make in 2013.

For the past year I’ve been on quest to spread the word about open social collaboration and productivity and why it is the key to business today. According to Charlene Li at Altimeter Group, enterprise collaboration drives business value in four ways:

Encourages sharing;
Captures knowledge;
Enables action; and
Empowers people

The app market alone is expected to hit $25 billion by 2015, but work doesn’t only happen on our mobile phones. Employees need access to do work on their desktop and/or laptop computer, tablet and phone — and they need one place they can manage their personal, professional and online lives.

Social networks invest an amazing amount of time, money and resources in the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX). Open social collaboration platforms should have a similar feel to the networks that consume so much of our time. There’s an element of fun that shouldn’t be feared by the enterprise. Fun is also a productivity feeder. In fact, a lack of passion at work is affecting over 70% of workers who feel disengaged due to communication issues. This equates into 17 hours/week of lost productivity and lost revenue. Using platforms that also disrupt because they’re fun and engaging is an investment in employee satisfaction (and can impact the bottom line positively).

The majority of “big collaboration platforms” are limited to corporate-only use and if someone leaves an organization they leave everything behind. That’s not a lot of incentive for people to get on board with a new platform or new process. But, what if they could have have one platform that stays with them throughout their entire professional career? Mind. Blown.

What does the perfect open social collaboration platform for enterprise consist of? Features like:

– No software. Say no to software. Use a platform that is browser and app based.

– Easy on boarding process. All productivity platforms have a learning curve, but it shouldn’t be so complex that it deters you from using it.

– Open. Allow for contributions even from those not using the platform. If you can’t freely and easily bring people in to collaborate, there’s no sense in using the tool.

– Custom notification settings. In order to reduce email, your platform should send regular email updates and allow you to respond on your time.

– Real-time document editing. If you’re working on a project that has many rounds of edits and various documents, the right platform allows you to easily create or upload, comment and edit — together.

– Public and Private. You should be able to create both public and private tasks and groups in order to work seamlessly within in one place.

– Once you finish your project and want to share it with the world, you can share it publicly in the platform and via social networks direct from within the platform.

– Publishing. People become authoritative by sharing what they’re getting done. Platforms should allow for direct publishing to your blog or website and sharing via social networks.

– Schedule meetings and reminders. A basic feature for any collaboration platform should allow you to add tasks to your calendar.

The platforms that can accomplish this (and more) are the ones that will disrupt the entire workflow of the enterprise world. They will break down communication barriers, buy back time spent in email and empower employees to do more with a “super tool.”

Selecting the right platform is only step one of the process. Step two involves the more difficult, but necessary, process of starting a cultural change. This change will be led by the C-suite and requires a commitment to stopping the glorification of busy (#stgob), abusing email (and start using it they way it should be used) and working as collaboratively and productively as possible.

The year of 2013 offers businesses an opportunity to work better, not more. The rise of the open social collaboration platforms is about to disrupt in a big way.

20 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Why open social collaboration platforms will disrupt the enterprise market in 2013 and beyond”

  1. Sarah Evans says:

    Thanks for the opportunity to share here, Brian. You’re the best! -Sarah

  2. The problem as I see it is: organisations particularly the larger ones can’t see the wood for the trees! Whats more is that this is endemic. Its a generation problem or to get down to brass tacks it is age related and habitually detremental. The c-suite need to give a little maybe a lot of authority and trust to others whom very might well now that this is what we need `right here, right now.

    • You hit the nail on the head Craig, it is exactly that. The older generation was born in a time of secrecy and non-collaboration. Like the “cold war” it was cold business.

  3. Brian, you’ve nailed a very important need and the criteria to meet that need. Now the question I and no doubt others have is — are there any such ‘open social collaboration platforms’ that meet some or all of your criteria now? Or are close to it? Better yet, for SMBs that fear that time./cost investment,are there any FREE (or very low cost) such platforms, or seeds of such? (And if not, why don’t YOU help some smart geeks CREATE one? I’d love to beta test THAT!)
    My company has looked at several, such as Socialcast, and… well, nothing seems to have the comfy feel of, say, Facebook. I’ve wanted to add a Ning-like network (or even old-fashioned forums) to our TV station’s Website, but Ning ‘busts frames’ and … well, I’ve played with dozens of free/low-cost options over the years.
    If this is ‘find a need and fill it’ … is anyone listening? Or do we all give in and try to shoehorn Facebook into what we want?

  4. Brian, your guest contributor has nailed a very important need and the criteria to meet that need. But what I missed at first was the italic note atop that this came from the folks with such a program, called Tracky. So I’ve revised my comments.
    My company has looked at several, such as Socialcast, and… well, nothing seems to have the comfy feel of, say, Facebook. So I’ll try Tracky, and … hope this kind of thing blossoms.
    On a slightly related note, I’ve wanted to add a Ning-like network (or even old-fashioned forums) to our TV station’s Website, but Ning ‘busts frames’ and … well, I’ve played with dozens of free/low-cost options over the years. In other words, to make our Website more Facebook-like, where anything can be ‘liked,’ interacted with, etc.
    I’m still amazed that isn’t part of what our provider and every other one is providing. Must be hard to be like Facebook. Simple sure can be hard!
    If this is ‘find a need and fill it’ … is anyone listening? Or do we all give in and try to shoehorn Facebook into what we want?

    • When you’re done playing with Tracky, give me a shout if you’d like to play with sciomino, I’m sure you’ll like the social interaction elements. And get work done along the side…

    • Sarah Evans says:

      Thank you for taking the time to read and respond, Barney. I truly hope you’ll find value in Tracky. I’m here if you need any help, tips, etc… Best, Sarah 🙂

  5. Great job Sarah. What you descirbed is exactly how we’re using Google.

  6. Hey, great points. I’m all for Open Social Collaboration. “Closed” Collaboration is like NOT being able to send a text message from a Nokia to a Samsung; or an e-mail from one system to another. Same thing goes for Social Collaboration: if I want to share my work from one platform, it must become easier to do so to another platform. Otherwise, I will in any case then use a “free” tool in between that is easy and which everyone have access to.

    I know, I know… there are security issues that needs to be solved, privacy concerns, confidential perspectives, etc. But all that can be worked out. Those concerns have always been there, for every new technology advance. “So you are afraid that your employees will share confidential stuff to others? Well, in that case… they probably have already done so using a USB or sending it by email.”

  7. professional copywriting says:

    In this age of smart phones and tablets that enables us to be connected to the internet just about everywhere, we go it is surprising that so many businesses still don’t have this sort of integration of data sharing services. With BYOD becoming more of a standard practice and the growth of cloud services collaboration services seem set to boom.

  8. David Shimberg says:

    Pointing the finger at the majority of businesses for not providing a social platform and supporting culture has some fingers pointing in other directions. How do we explain business cultures where platform, leadership and opportunity for social business exist but few follow? Inertia? Peer pressure? My theory is we still see our social personal behavior in a different light than social business behavior. The tipping point is in the distance …

  9. Really interesting stuff, gr8 job Sarah. I am actually working on an essay about innovation and that is really inspiring. I wonder if i can found more information about this subject, could you please help me on this?

  10. Dave Crenshaw says:

    Thanks for the info, Sarah. Great post.

  11. Josh says:


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